Rural Kentucky schools closed amid manhunt for police shooter
Floyd Ray Cook, the suspect, is believed to be on foot after a Saturday shootout with a Kentucky state police trooper.
Louisville, Ky. — A rural Kentucky school district canceled classes for a second straight day Tuesday as authorities searched for a fugitive accused of shooting at law officers in two states.
Cumberland County schools Superintendent Kirk Biggerstaff said he doesn't want students waiting for buses in sparsely-populated areas while Floyd Ray Cook is still at large.
"We still feel that student safety is compromised somewhat with this unique situation," Biggerstaff said.
The 62-year-old Cook was believed to be on foot after a Saturday shootout with a Kentucky state police trooper. Cook was last seen in the hilly, wooded countryside in Cumberland County, which borders Tennessee.
Cook is charged with attempted first-degree murder in Tennessee for allegedly shooting and wounding a police officer Saturday. Authorities say the officer's life was saved by his bulletproof vest.
Cook is accused of opening fire later Saturday at the Kentucky trooper, who wasn't wounded.
"He's as dangerous as they come," said Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Gregory. "I would say anyone that has any contact with him is in danger."
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added Cook to its Top Ten Most Wanted list and described him as armed and dangerous.
Cook is described as a 6-foot, 160-pound white male with blue eyes, gray facial hair and gray, balding hair.
He was convicted of a series of crimes including rape, burglary, robbery, assault and riot in Kentucky in the 1970s and 1980s, according to state corrections department records. Cook was convicted of raping a 19-year-old in Marion County in 1971, records showed. He was required to register as a sex offender and remain on parole for the rest of his life.
Cook was indicted in July on charges of first-degree trafficking in methamphetamine and tampering with physical evidence, according to Hardin County court records in Kentucky. He was scheduled for arraignment in August but did not appear. A warrant was issued for his arrest and remains outstanding.
He listed an address in Lebanon, Kentucky, on his sex offender registration form.
Several months ago, the Marion County Sheriff's Office, making routine checks on the sex offenders in the county, discovered he was no longer living there, said Sheriff Jimmy Clements.
Deputies there took out a warrant for his arrest and started searching for him. They discovered he was living at an address in the tiny town of Raywick, Kentucky. They staked out the home but were never able to catch him.
The Kentucky manhunt has echoes of a seven-week manhunt a year ago in Pennsylvania. Eric Frein, a survivalist and expert marksman who was accused of ambushing two troopers, leaving one dead and seriously injuring the other. Mr Frein was charged with opening fire outside a police barracks in eastern Pennsylvania on Sept. 12, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson and seriously wounding another trooper.
In the hunt for Frein, state officials had closed schools and urged residents to be alert and cautious. Using dogs, thermal imaging technology and other tools, law enforcement officials combed miles of forest as they hunted for the suspect, whom they called an experienced survivalist at home in the woods.
They pursued countless tips, and closed in on an area around Frein's parents' home in Canadensis, Penn., after he used his mobile phone to try contacting them, and the signal was traced to a location about three miles away. At times police ordered nearby residents to stay inside or prevented them from returning home. Frein was captured Oct. 30, 2014.